Thursday, June 30, 2016

Like Father Like Son?

I recently had a new DNA match with the common shared ancestor as my three times great grandfather John William Jennings, Sr., as I looked through his family tree, I began to see names I didn't recognize. So I started tracing his line backwards from the first deceased person to Pleasant Jennings born between 1801-1810 according to the 1840 census. He lived in Preble County, Ohio, where he married Viletta McCabe in 1831. The marriage and census records were all I could find online. So it was the furthest back I could take my DNA match's tree.

Preble County, Ohio; courtesy of

I have a Pleasant Jefferson Jennings in my family tree. He was my three times great uncle, born about 1820 in Buckingham County, Virginia, married Martha Ann Christian Kelley in 1839 and removed to Walker County, Texas, by 1850, where he lived for the remainder of his life. Several people, including my DNA match have combined records about the Ohio and Texas men named Pleasant Jennings, thinking the name was uncommon. We were able to definitely prove we were dealing with two different men and I found an interesting story along the way.

My DNA match's Pleasant Jennings had a granddaughter named Clara Belle Jennings. She was born on 13 January 1861 in Ohio to John P. Jennings and Nancy L. Charles. She married Jasper L. Granger on 25 March 1880 in Butler County, Ohio. They had three children:
  • Mary "Mamie" Granger (1881-1962), married William Daniel Partin
  • Frances E. Granger (c1882-1970), married Walter L. Martin
  • Everett Jennings Granger (1886-unknown)
In 1900 Clara was the head of the household and lived with her three children in Atchison, Kansas. She told the enumerator she was married and had been for 20 years. Her daughter, Frances, worked as a clerk and they had a lodger. Was that the only income? Or was husband Jasper contributing? And where was he? It turns out Jasper was in Elko, Nevada where he lived on the Western Shoshone Indian Reservation with his partner in a blacksmith business. 

I have not been able to find Clara, Jasper, or the children in the 1910 census. In 1920, Clara lived with her daughter, Frances, who had married Walter L. Martin, and lived in Kansas City, Missouri. The 1921, 1922, and 1923 city directories for Kansas City included listings for Clara (Jennings) Granger, as a widow of Jasper Granger.

Clara died on 12 March 1924 in Kansas City. And her will included this nugget of information:

Snippet from Clara Belle (Jennings) Granger's will proving Jasper did
leave the family; courtesy of

Apparently, Jasper may have returned to the family sometime after the 1900 census was enumerated but only hung around for about eight years before disappearing for good. I do not know where he was in 1920 but in 1930 he lived at 829 Sixth Street in New Orleans, Louisiana, in a home he owned and was the proprietor of a grocery store. He died there in 1932.

Fast forward several years. Clara Belle and Jasper's son, Everett Jennings Granger married Lillian Margaret Murray and had two children. They lived in Chicago where Everett managed a printing business. In 1938 and 1940 Everett and Lillian were listed in the Michigan City, Indiana city directories. Michigan City is some two and half hours by car from Chicago. It is on Lake Michigan. Was it a summer place? Was this a different Everett J. and Lillian Granger?

2222 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago, site of Everett Jennings Granger's
printing business

Those are the last records I have for Everett. He simply disappeared more thoroughly than his father. Two of his descendants told me his disappearance is the great mystery in their family.

Lillian eventually moved to Pasadena, California, near her son. She died in Brea, California, in 1986. Beginning in 1953 she listed herself in the city directories as a widow of Everett Granger.

If you know what happened to Everett Jennings Granger, several of us would dearly love to know.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Chignik Bay, Alaska

Chignik, Alaska, is on the Chignik Bay on the Alaskan Peninsula about 200 miles past Kodiak and above the Aleutian Islands. It is still a remote fishing village in a remote region of Alaska based around two fish plants.

Chignik, Alaska; map courtesy of Chignik Bay Adventures

By the time Minerva B. Hansen[1] was born, Chignik was a growing area and the canneries continued to draw people. A summer school had opened in 1903 on the southside of Chignik Bay where a number of Euroamerican men had begun a new settlement. This is where the community, informally known as Andersonville, was established. It was likely named for George Anderson, Minerva's maternal grandfather. St. Nicholas chapel was on the north side of the bay and the residents of Andersonville would paddle across the bay to attend Orthodox services. Also, on the north side were several Native Aleutian communities.

St. Nicholas chapel in Chignik, Alaska; courtesy of the Alaska State Library

According to Michelle Morseth's book, Chignik Bay "became an early geographical boundary between the new community of immigrant men married to local women, and the local Native community. The distinction between the two communities was soon evident since, for many families, establishment of a separate community meant a rejection of Native culture and Russian Orthodoxy.

The bay continued to support two villages for 13 years. The south side became a permanent year-round village with a school, health clinic, and airstrip. Few residents on the north side survived the 1919 epidemic and the old village was abandoned soon after.

Andersonville circa 1909; image courtesy of the Alaska State

Father Modestov, an Orthodox priest, visited Chignik Bay in 1909, seven short years before Minerva was born, and left a description of the village on the north side:

"We arrived in Chignik at 10am and were met by the people on the shore. They took us in a boat to Vvendskoe (north side village), which is half an hour away on the other side of the bay. The village consisting of 2-3 barabaras was founded about ten years ago. In 1907/08 upon the priest's requests, the inhabintants built a church in the name of the Entry (vvendeniye) of Virgin Mary into the Temple. Since then the village has grown. Orthodox from Nushagak mission and Afognak parish moved here. People from other villages are also settling down here since there is a number of local conveniences. There is a lot of fuel in the area and it is close at hand; there is an ample supply of salmon; there are stores and a post office, and two fish canneries where people can get jobs. There is a doctor and the priest visits this settlement every year. Eskimos, Aglemiuts and creoles do not have such conveniences in their old places and, therefore, are settling down in Chignik abandoning their old residences."

'Andersonville circa 1909,' Alaska State Archives
Chignik Bay, Alaska, Chignik Bay Adventures

[1]Minerva B. Hansen was the wife of my first cousin twice removed, Alexander Eugene Muir (1917-1999). They married sometime before 1940 likely in Washington State when Alexander was in the Coast Guard. Minerva's parents were Lars Antone Hansen II and Nancy J. Anderson, whose father came to Chignik in the 1890s and married a creole woman -- someone of Russian and Native Alaskan descent.

Monday, June 27, 2016

William Anthony Ternes and the Quonset Hut

Marian Ruth (Ternes) Muir was the wife of my first cousin twice removed. Her brother, William Anthony Ternes was a successful business man who founded Ternes Steel Co. in 1946, which merged with Evan Products in 1969. According to his family, he also designed the Quonset hut, of which up to 170,000 were produced during World War II.

William A. Ternes Obituary as published in the Detroit Free Press; courtesy
William A. Ternes obituary as published in the
Detroit Free Press; courtesy of

When the 1940 census was enumerated, William A. Ternes was in Yavapai County, Arizona, at Shadow Croft Court, an auto court, or motel, operated by Herman and Gertrude Dickman. His occupation was listed as salesman for a steel company. Also listed at the motel were several other salesmen.

So it is entirely possible that he worked for Strand Steel Co., as his brother said in his obituary. The company was located in Quonset Point, Rhode Island. The U.S. Navy contracted with the George A. Fuller Construction Co. in 1941 to build an all-purpose, lightweight building that could be shipped anywhere in the world and assembled without skilled labor.

Quonset hut being assembled in post-war Japan; courtesy Wikipedia

Perhaps the Fuller Construction Co. contracted with Strand Steel Co. to design the building. The original design was a 16-foot by 36-foot structure framed with steel members with an 8-foot radius. The sides were corrugated steel sheets. The two ends were covered with plywood, which had doors and windows. The interior was insulated and had pressed wood lining and a wood floor. The building could be placed on concrete, on pilings, or directly on the ground with a wood floor.

The most common design created a standard size of 20 feet by 48 feet with a 10-foot radius, allowing 720 square feet of usable floor space, with optional four-foot overhangs at each end for protection of the entrances from the weather. Several other sizes were developed. The flexible interior space was open, allowing for use as barracks, latrines, offices, medical and dental offices, isolation wards, housing, and bakeries. Eventually several different companies produced the quonset hut.

William Anthony Ternes was born on 2 July 1912 in Michigan to William Peter Ternes and Elsie Agnes Gerstner. He married Madlyn Erminie Maiullo on 1 October 1838 in Detroit. He was a successful and respected Detroit businessman. He died on 26 February 1982 at Bon Secour Hospital in Gross Pointe following a long illness. He was interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Detroit.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Shippen-Blair House

Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr., was my six times great uncle and son of Samuel Blair and Franjinke "Frances" van Hook, who were my six times great grandparents. Like his father, Samuel Blair, Jr., was an accomplished Presbyterian minister. He was a graduate of what is now Princeton University and had been a pastor at the Old South Church in Boston. During the Revolutionary War, he served as the chaplain of an artillery brigade and later as the chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives.

He married Susan Shippen on 23 September 1767 in Germantown, which is now a historic district in northwest Philadelphia. Susan was the daughter of Dr. William Shippen and Susan Harrison. Dr. Shippen was a physician, civic and educational leader, who represented Pennsylvania in the Continental Congress. Upon the marriage of his daughter, Susan, Dr. Shippen gave the couple the house at 6403 Germantown Avenue together with 57 acres.

The Shippen-Blair House, 6403 Germantown Avenue, undated lantern slide
courtesy of Bryn Mawr College

The house came to be known as the Shippen-Blair House. It was three and a half stories, stone with wood trim in the Federal style. The Revolutionary War battle of Germantown left traces in the woodwork and Mrs. Washington was entertained here when George Washington was in Germantown. The original property was thought to also house another two story building, a large greenhouse, a wash house, and a barn complex including cow and horse stables, a dung shed, a threshing floor, a wagon house and a coach house.

In 1832 the house was purchased by James Ogilbe, who operated it as Congress Hall, a hotel. When Chief Black Hawk stayed at the hotel the next year. In 1851 the house was owned by actress Charlotte Cushman and in the later part of the 1800s was a popular boardinghouse known as The Laurens.

The exterior of the house has been much altered since it was originally built.

Pray Together, Stay Together 
Revolutionary War Chaplain, Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Always a Cigar Maker

At our Lange Cousin Reunion last year, Aunt Katherine asked me to look into her father's family as she did not know much about them. Over several months, I traced her father's Walter family back to Nicola Walter who was born about 1720 in the Rhineland-Palatinate region of what is now Germany. He arrived in Philadelphia in 1751 but by 1779 had moved west to what is now Heidelberg in York County. Nicola and his wife, Rosana, had at least two sons: Nicola, Jr. and John Walter.

John Walter was murdered in 1797 one mile from Elk Ridge. He was a tailor and had served in the Revolutionary War. He left a wife and three children. One son, John William Walter, married twice, had several children, and lived in Emmitsburg, Maryland, where he owned a prosperous farm. One son by his second wife was Aloysius Walter. He was my aunt's great grandfather.

Aloysius Walter was born about 1848 on his parents farm in Emmitsburg where he grew up. At the age of 21 he married Flora Moselle Dorsey at the Moravian Church in Graceham, Maryland. They settled in Mechanicstown, which is now known as Thurmont, Maryland, where Aloysius worked as a carpenter.

Moravian Church in Graceham, Maryland, where Aloysius Walter and Flora
Mozelle Dorsey were married; courtesy of the church

By 1896 Aloysius had moved his family to Baltimore where they lived at 300 Parkin Street. Aloysius had left his carpentry work, too. He now worked as a cigar maker. His three oldest sons, Harry O., Charles J., and William Gunza Walter, were also cigar makers. By 1900 those three sons had married and moved out of their parent's home. Aloysius' next son, Ross Norman Walter, worked with him as a cigar maker.  Years later, at least two sons sold cigars in their shops in Baltimore and the District of Columbia.

Cigar making seemed an important part of the Walter family livelihood for at least two generations. I was curious to learn more about its history. Patricia Cooper's book, Once a Cigar Maker, described the work culture in cigar factories from about 1870 to 1900.

"Manufacturing itself underwent vast changes during the late nineteenth century...cigar manufacturing moved from the independent producer to pre-corporate forms (firms that were owned and managed by the same person) of large-scale factory production during these years... By the 1890s, several large companies in various cities had factories employing several hundred and a few employed over one thousand workers... Cigar making itself had for some time been confined to male craftsmen, but during the 1870s manufacturers began dividing the labor process and hiring women."

Cigar factory, 1892; courtesy of TampaPix

Likely Aloysius and his sons were not cigar craftsmen but rather factory workers responsible for a portion of the making of cigars. Aloysius died in 1911 but his sons who remained in the cigar business would have experienced the labor strife that began in 1917 and burst into public consciousness in 1919.

Cooper's book included a lovely quote by Jose Santana:

"We are really...more like a brotherhood...Once a cigar maker, always a cigar maker. That means that you may get away from the trade for a couple of years, but you always have in your mind the cigar makers. And if something go wrong when you are working somewhere else, you will go back to the cigar shop. They were so congenial one with the other that you enjoy... You are working for a couple of years out of the shop, at something else, and then for some reason you come back to the cigar shop they welcome you. No animosity or nothing like it. But what they used to say, once a cigar maker, always a cigar maker."

Since reading Mr. Santana's sentiments about the cigar craftsmen, I wondered it it had been lost during the industry's transformation to factory production. Probably so, and what a shame!

Friday, June 17, 2016

World War II Army Awards and Decorations

My father-in-law was drafted into the U.S. Army on 7 April 1941 and today is the 71st anniversary of his honorable discharge. During his active service he earned or was awarded the following medals, ribbons and devices:
  • Bronze Star Medal with One Oak Leaf Cluster -- awarded for heroic achievement or service, meritorious achievement or service, or meritorious service in a combat zone; each Oak Leaf Cluster denotes multiple awards
  • Purple Heart Medal -- awarded for wounds suffered in combat
  • Army Good Conduct Medal -- awarded to active duty military personnel who completed three years of honorable and faithful service
  • American Defense Medal -- recognized military service members who were on active service between 8 September 1939 and 7 December 1941 (before Pearl Harbor was attacked and the U.S. entered the war)
  • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with Three Bronze Battle Stars -- recognized military service members who performed military service in the European (including Africa and the Middle East) Theater of Operations; battle stars are awarded for each military campaign[1]
  • World War II Victory Medal -- awarded to any military member who was on active service between 7 December 1941 and 31 December 1946
My father-in-law's ribbon "rack;" built using EZ Rack Builder[1]

On 16 May 1945, he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with One Oak Leaf Cluster. His citation read:

Staff Sergeant PETER C. DAGUTIS, 36109224, Infantry, 2d Infantry Regiment, United States Army. For distinctive service in connection with military operations against the enemy during the period 20 September 1944 to 15 April 1945 in Europe. On innumerable occasions, Sergeant DAGUTIS, a squad leader, has voluntarily exposed himself to enemy fire for the safety and protection of his unit. In addition to directing the operation of his squad in SANRY-SUR-NEID, he commandeered a weapon and from the speed with which he completed fire missions, was largely responsible for the disruption of a desperate enemy counterattack. His courage, leadership and devotion to duty reflect great credit upon himself and the armed forces. Entered service from Michigan.
Major General, U.S. Army

My father-in-law's Bronze Star Citation; personal collection

In addition to the medals and ribbons, he also received or earned the following:
  • Combat Infantry Badge -- for active combat
  • Expert Infantry Badge -- for attaining certain required infantry skills
  • Driver and Mechanic Badge with Driver-W Bar (wheeled vehicles) -- awarded to soldiers who exhibited a high degree of skill in the operation and maintenance of motor vechicles
  • Six Overseas Bars -- each bar denotes 6 months in a combat zone
  • Honorable Discharge Lapel Button, better known among soldiers as the Ruptured Duck -- awarded to military service members who were honorably discharged during World War II
His uniform would have also included patches indicating rank and the units in which he served. In my father-in-law's case, the 5th Infantry Division and perhaps his 2nd Infantry Regiment patch.

Terrible picture of the shadowbox present I made for my
husband; personal collection

I collected over time all of my father-in-law's medals, ribbons, badges, pins, and patches and had a shadow box made for my husband as a birthday present several years ago. When my father, a Korean War veteran, saw it, he was most impressed with the Combat Infantry Badge, not to be confused with the Expert Infantry Badge.

Combat Infantry Badge; photograph courtesy of the U.S. Army

The Expert Infantry Badge is awarded to infantry men with certain specialities, after testing and exhibiting specific required skills. It is a merit badge, if you will. The Combat Infantry Badge was awarded to soldiers who were 1) infantry men satisfactorily performing infantry duties, 2) assigned to an infantry unit during such time as the unit is actively engaged in armed combat, and 3) actively participating in such ground combat. Campaign or battle credit alone is not sufficient for award of the Combat Infantry Badge. The badge is still awarded today. If you see a soldier wearing one, he has been in an actual ground battle and under enemy fire.

If you would like to learn more about the awards and decorations listed on your ancestor's Army discharge papers, I found the following sources very useful:

Awards and Decorations of the United States Armed Forces, which includes links to explanations about individuals awards and decorations

If you are interested in purchasing your ancestor's Army awards, simply Google the term "Army medals" and you will find plenty of sources. Most of these sources include a slew of commemorative medals and ribbons, but none of them are listed in the Army military awards regulation. They do make nice keepsakes and momentos, but should not be confused with the official ones.

[1] A few days ago, when reading The Army Ground Forces: The Organization of Ground Combat Troops, I learned 5th Infantry Division was informed in early July 1945 that it was entitled to credit for two additional campaigns. My father-in-law's honorable papers reflect only three campaigns as he separated from the Army in mid June. I have not yet updated his ribbon rack to accurately reflect the European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one silver star which is used instead of five Bronze Battle Stars. His updated ribbon rack would look like this:

Top row left to right: Bronze Star with one Oakleaf cluster, Purple Heart, and
Army Good Conduct Medal. Bottom Row left to right: American Defense
Service; European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign with one Silver Battle
Start; World War II Victory; image courtesy of EZ Rack Builder.

7 Tips When Researching Your U.S. Army World War II Soldiers
Women's Army Corps (WACs) in World War Two
Understanding the U.S. Army World War II Infantry Division
Army Campaign Streamers

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Cajun or Cerole? What's the Difference?

One of the granddaughters of Armita Marie Alleman, my grand uncle Henry Muir's second wife, always heard her grandmother was a full-blooded Native American. As she digs into her family history, she's finding out that may not be true. Her grandmother's race was always listed as "W" for white on the census forms, but she was from Acadia Parish. So was she Creole or Cajun and what's the difference anyway?

"Creole in a Red Turban" by Jacques Aman, circa 1840; image courtesy

I learned it's pretty easy to determine the difference between Creole and Cajun food; Creole cuisine uses tomatoes, Cajun doesn't. People, well, that's not as easy.

When the French settlers moved to Louisiana, the placage system was set up due to a shortage of accessible white women. The French wanted to expand its population in the new world, however men were not expected to marry until their early thirties and premarital sex was inconceivable. African woman soon became the concubines of white male colonists, which in some cases they happened to be sons of noblemen, military men, plantation owners, etc. Soon, wealthy white men would marry and, in some cases, they would possess two families. One with the white woman to which they were legally married, and one with their mistress of color. The offspring from their mistresses were then grouped into a new class of creoles known as gens de couleur, or free people of color. This class of people would soon expand when refugees from Haiti and other French speaking colonies would migrate to New Orleans, effectively creating a new middle class between the white French Creoles and slaves.

Courtesy of Google

This class of colored people was unique to the South as they were not in the same category as African slaves. They were elite members of society who were often leaders in business, agriculture, politics, and the arts. At one time the center of their residential community was the French Quarter. Many were educated, owned their own property and businesses. Additionally, some were even slave-owners. They formed a third class in the slave society. This meant that in the pre-civil war era, race was mainly divided into four categories. These were white, black, creoles, and free people of color. French Creoles objected to the fact that the term Creole was used to describe Free People of Color but their culture and ideals were often mirrored by them. French Creoles spoke French while Black Creoles spoke Louisiana Creole which was a mixture of English, French, African or Spanish. The end of the civil war was a threat to the Louisiana Creoles of Color because this brought about the two-tiered class system that existed in the rest of the country that was divided predominately by race: black and white.

Cajuns, on the other hand, are any descendant of Acadian exiles (French-speaking Canadians from the Maritime provinces) who lived in the southern bayou region of Louisiana. They can be any race.

Courtesy of Google

Cajuns began arriving in Louisiana during the French and Indian War. Their forced expulsion by the British was part of the its military campaign again New France, the French territories in Canada. It is thought that over 11,000 people out of 14,000 were deported during what became known as the Great Expulsion.

I learned when researching the cultural history of Russians in Alaska, they also used the term "creole" to define people with mixed Russian and Native Alaskan blood.

A version of this post first appeared on the Robert Muir Family blog on 7 April 2016, which is the publishing platform for the multi-volume book, Descendants of Robert Muir (c1800-1869). The original version of this post will be published in an electronic book, Volume VII: James Muir (1848-1926) Descendants in June 2016.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Another Ludwig Breakthrough: Finding Uncle Gustav Ludwig

Grandma and Grandpa Lange on their wedding day in 1915; personal collection

I have known for many years that my grandfather, Gustav Lange, and grandmother, Wilhelmina Schalin, married in Winnipeg, Canada, in 1915. It was not until I ordered their Official Notice of Marriage from Manitoba Province that I knew exactly where in Winnipeg they married.

Where married: 386 Thames Avenue, Winnipeg; snippet from personal

386 Thames Avenue was also listed as Gustav's home address. So they married at the groom's home. How interesting since he was the only known Lange family member in Canada and Wilhelmina had lots of family in her hometown in Alberta.

It wasn't until my aunt gave me the Lange family bible that the address on Thames Avenue became a clue that knocked down another Ludwig brick wall. Aunt Jeanne believed the bible was given to her husband, my Uncle Alfred, by his father Gustav. As I translated the pages containing family information from German to English. I began to suspect the bible belonged to my grand uncle Traugott Lange and he had later given it to my grandfather. (You may read about that here: Grandpa's Bible and New Mysteries and Lange Family Bible Unlocks the Life of Traugott Lange.)

Mom always called Traugott "Fritz." She didn't know his given name and she didn't know what happened to him. A connection with the granddaughter of my grandfather's youngest brother provided a bit more information about his life and a different name, "Trogott." But that new information didn't advance my search results in any way.

The family information handwritten in the bible stated Traugott married Katherina Magdalena Hirt in Winnipeg in 1917. With a place name now known, I could add new focus to my search for Traugott.

When the 1916 census of Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and Alberta was enumerated, Traugott lived at 386 Thames Avenue and was a roomer with Gustav Ludwig's family. There were two things familiar about this piece of information: 1) the address was where my grandfather lived and married in 1915 and 2) Ludwig was the maiden name of Caroline (Ludwig) Lange, the mother of my grandfather and his brother, Traugott. Was Gustav Ludwig related? He was the same age as my grandfather so I thought perhaps a cousin, but at the time I had absolutely no way to prove a familial connection.

386 Thames Avenue, Winnipeg, Canada; courtesy of Google Street View

As I continued researching Traugott's life, I realized I had found the proof that Gustav Ludwig was related to Caroline Ludwig. He was her much younger brother.

Snippet from a 1920 U.S.-Canada Border Crossing list; courtesy of

The master pedigree database developed by the Society for German Genealogy in Eastern Europe (SGGEE) included the parents of Caroline and Gustav Ludwig but no information about their children. So this connection to Gustav Ludwig was completely new information!

I started researching the life of Gustav Ludwig and discovered he did live on Riverton Avenue in Winnipeg in 1921 so we were talking about the same person! And another brick tumbles down from the Ludwig brick wall.

Lange Family Bible Unlocks the Life of Traugott Lange
Grandpa's Bible and New Mysteries
The Ludwig Breakthrough: Finding Some Great Greats
The Ludwig Breakthrough: DNA and Chocolates
The Ludwig Breakthrough: Reporting From Brazil
The Ludwig Breakthrough: Life of Johann Jacob Baerg

Friday, June 10, 2016

Who Was the Original Jennings Immigrant?

The first documented Jennings direct ancestor in Virginia was my four times great grandfather, Benjamin Jennings (about 1740-1815). He first appeared on a payroll record for the Virginia Milita on 9 September 1776, serving as a private in Captain Thomas Gaddis' company. He married twice, had eight known children, and owned land in Powhatan County. His life was fairly well documented after the Revolutionary War, including a will.

Many public trees claim his parents were James Jennings and Mary Dickerson. James was a son of Colonel William Henry Jennings and Mary Jane Pulliam. There is much documentation to support the life of the colonel, that he immigrated to the Virginia colony from England, and had a son named James. The only problem is there is also evidence to support that his son, James, ever had a son named Benjamin and was ever married to a woman named Mary Dickerson.

I set a research task for myself to discover all of the immigrants to Virginia with the surname Jennings. My plan was to research those men until I have proved they are not related to Benjamin or, if I am lucky, were related.

Tobacco ships on the James River in the 1600s; image courtesy of The
Maritime Heritage Project

During a trip to the Library of Virginia in Richmond, I created the following list of people as possible ancestors:
  • Edward Ginnings, 1663, transported by Thomas Mudgett
  • William Jennings, 1635, transported by William Woolritch, who received a grant in Elizabeth City County
  • Edward Jennings, 1643, transported by John Wall, who received a grant in Northumberland County
  • Edward Jennings, 1662, transported by Richard Iliffe
  • John Jennings, 1643, transported by George Levitt
  • John Jennings, 1662, transported by Valentine Allen, who received a grant on the south side of the Rappahannock river
  • John Jennings, 1635, transported by Thomas Fowler, who received a grant of 900 acres in James City County near the Chickahominy river
  • Nathaniel Jennings, 1643, transported by William Lawrence, James City County
  • Philip Jennings, 1635, age 25
  • Richard Jennings, 1636, transported by Elizabeth Hawkins and her son, received land in Elizabeth City County
  • Symon Jennings, 1643, transported by Richard Howe, Gentleman, Henrico County
  • Thomas Jennings, 1636, transported by Walter Daniell, James City County
  • Ed Jennings, 1664, transported by Thomas Philpott, who received a grant in Westmoreland County
  • Henry Jennings, 1635, age 24, a minister, transported from London to America in the Truelove de London, Robert Dennis, Master
  • Henry Jennings, 1658, transported by James Kimygam and James Fullerton, who received a grant in Rappahannock County
  • Jane Jennings, 1635, age 25, transported on the David
  • John Jennings, 1635, age 18, transported by Peter Blacker
  • John or Jonas Jennings, 1638, transported by Edward Travis and John Johnson, James City County
  • Matthew Jennings, 1623, died in Virginia
  • Michaell Jennings, left Virginia on 26 September 1679 bound for Jamaica aboard the sloop, Butter
  • Nicholas Jennings, 1634, age 22, bound for New England April 1634
  • Richard Jennings, 1635, transported by John Flowers, master of the Dora
  • Richard Jennings, 1636, received a grant in Henrico County due to his wife, Dorothy, widow of the late Edward Garner
  • Richard Jennings, 1651, transported by George Eaton, Northumberland County
  • Richard Jennings, 1653, transported by Matthew Tomlin, Northumberland County
  • Sarah T. Jennings, 1635, transported by John Flowers, master of the Dora
  • Thomas Jennings, 1638, transported by Roger Davis, Charles City County
  • Thomas Jennings, 1639, transported by Walter Daniell, James City County
  • William Jennings, 1679, in the sloop Trufriendship, Charles Kallahana, commander
That's a lot of Jennings!

If I was sure this was a complete list, I might continue with my original plan, but right now, I am rethinking my research strategy.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Case of Two Men Named Grover Cleveland Wood

I have two different men named Grover Cleveland Wood in my family tree born 16 days apart in the same state. It wasn't until I examined each record carefully that I realized I was dealing with two different men instead of one:
  1. Grover Cleveland Wood (1885-1957)
  2. Grover Cleveland Wood (1885-1959)
Grover Cleveland Wood #1

Grover Cleveland Wood was born on 1 February 1885 in Bonsack, Virginia, a small unincorporated community in Roanoke County to William Garrison Wood and Anna P. Thrasher. He married Nannie Alberta Scott on 25 January 1911 in Bristol, Virginia. They had three children:
  • Mildred MacDonald Wood born 6 July 1912 in Washington County, Virginia; died 18 May 2010 in Roanoke County; married 1) John Reginald Watkins in 1938, divorced, 1942 and 2) Gilfert Witt Coalter in 1968.
  • Marcus Scott Wood born 8 December 1913 in Campbell County, Virginia; died 4 January 1995; married Marie Babette Metz on 5 September 1947 in Kobe, Japan
  • E. Garrison Wood was born 6 July 1915 in Campbell County, Virginia; died 23 November 2010; married Elizabeth Jean (Arington) Jessee, who had previously been married to Earnest Filmore Jessee, Jr.[1]
After his wife, Nannie, died in 1945. Grover #1 married Amy J. (Newman) Overstreet, the widow of Silas W. Overstreet.

A brief ancestry of Grover Cleveland Wood is:

Father: William Garrison Wood (1856-1942), married Anna P. Thrasher
Grandfather: Samuel Gilbert Wood (1818-1896), married Amanda Gish
Great Grandfather: Stephen Wood, III (1786-1850), married Lydia Holland. He was a Baptist minister and the high sheriff of Franklin County, Virginia.
2X Great Grandfather: Stephen Wood, Jr. (1751-1816), married Ann Smith

Home of Stephen Wood, III, courtesy of Ancestry member vernell190

Grover Cleveland Wood #2

Grover Cleveland Wood was born on 16 February 1885 in Powhatan County, Virginia, to William Washington Wood and Elizabeth "Bettie" Ann Davis. On 20 May 1915 he married Alma May Martin in Richmond, Virginia. They had no known children.

William Washington Wood Family; courtesy of FAG volunteer Elizabeth C.
Unfortunately, I do not know which son was Grover. He was the 7th of nine
children who lived.

A brief ancestry of Grover Cleveland Wood is:

Father: William Washington Wood (1844-1909), married Elizabeth "Bettie" Ann Davis
Grandfather: Joseph T. Wood (about 1817-1982), married Lucy Jane Davis
Great Grandfather: William Edward "Neddy" Wood (1777-about 1848), married Sarah Gilliland
2X Great Grandfather: Joseph Wood (about 1740-1916), married Mary Epperson

I do not yet know how this Wood family fits into my tree. A daughter of Joseph T. Wood married Joseph Sampson Jennings, son of Daniel Oscar Jennings. He is a mystery. I believe his father, or perhaps grandfather, both currently unknown, may be a brother of my Jennings brick wall: Benjamin Jennings (about 1740-1815).

A second tenuous connection to this Grover Cleveland Wood was through his second cousin, Lelia Demarius Wood, who married Samuel Hutchings Price, my second cousin three times removed.

A search for any Grover Cleveland Wood born between 1883-1887 reveals 23 different people. Be careful when you research; often times names are not as uncommon as you might suppose!

[1]Earnest Filmore Jessee was my 4th cousin.

A great resources for descendants of Joseph Wood (about 1740-1816) is the Woods and Others website.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Pray Together, Stay Together

I've heard the expression, "Couples that pray together, stay together." What about four generations of several interconnected families?

Ministers in an interconnected family; created using Microsoft PowerPoint

Rev. Samuel Blair (1712-1751)

Rev. Samuel Blair was my 6 times great grandfather. He and his brother, Rev. John Blair emigrated from Scotland to the colonies in the 1720s and settled in Pennsylvania. Samuel Blair was ordained by the Presbytery of Philadelphia in 1730, after studying at Log College in Bucks County. The brothers became prominently identified with Presbyterian institutions and were early trustees of the College of New Jersey, now known was Princeton University. Rev. Samuel Blair served as acting-president of the college for a year, became vice president of the same institution, and the first professor of theology of Princeton Theological Seminary. He eventually became the minister at Faggs Manor in Chester County, Pennsylvania, and began a college for classical and theological studies. One of his students, Rev. Samuel Davies, considered the "Apostle of Virginia," thought Samuel Blair was the finest preacher on two continents. "None was better than he at the exposition of God's word."

Faggs Manor Church, now known as Manor Presbyterian Church, the second
oldest Presbyterian church in the U.S.; courtesy of member

I have written about his son, Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr. (1741-1818) previously in the post entitled, Revolutionary War Chaplain, Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr. He was a pastor at the Old South Church in Boston, chaplain for an Revolutionary War artillery brigade, and the second chaplain of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rev. David Rice, Jr. (1733-1816)

I have also written about Rev. David Rice, Jr. (1733-1816) before in the post entitled, Apostle of Kentucky. David Rice, Jr. served in the Virginia Militia during the Revolutionary War. He married the daughter of Rev. Samuel Blair, Mary Blair. His family was Episcopalian but he converted early to Presbyterianism and studied at the College of New Jersey. Rev. Rice spent over 20 years in Bedford County, Virginia, working among the slaves with Rev. Samuel Davies. As a result of that work and his basic human dignity, he became an ardent abolitionist. However, the powerful planter lobby in Virginia forced him out of the state. He settled in Kentucky in 1783 and joined its abolitionist society. During the 1792 Kentucky Constitution Convention he gave a speech entitled, "Slavery: Inconsistent with Justice and Good Policy."

Pamphlet of speech given by Rev. David Rice, Jr. at the 1792 Kentucky
Constitution Convention; courtesy of Internet Archive

His son was Dr. David Rice, III, and his daughter, Frances Blair Rice married Rev. James Mitchell.

Rev. James Mitchell (1747-1841)

James Mitchell was born in Pequea, Pennsylvania, and removed to Bedford County, Virginia, with his parents and siblings. He became a licensed Presbyterian minister in 1781 and preached until the year before his death 60 years later. John B. Smith, president of Hampden-Sydney College, said that Mr. Graham on his visit, preached the greatest sermon he had ever heard, except one, and that was preached by this powerful weak, gentle and strong old man, Rev. James Mitchell. Rev. William Foote in his Sketches of Virginia, wrote of James Mitchell: "He pleads a cause, and has pleaded but one all his active life; pleads it in simplicity and earnestness and with success; pleads it in his daily life, and from the pulpit. That cause is the cause of the Lord Jesus Christ, the message of mercy to sinful man; that he pleads always, and every where, with a warm heart and trumpet voice." The church at the Peaks of Otter asked him to become their minister in 1786 and he remained at that congregation's minister until his death. Three sons-in-law and one grandson followed him into the ministry.

Covered bridge in the outskirts of Pequea, Pennsylvania; personal collection

One daughter, Sarah Dodridge Mitchell, married her first cousin, Rev. Samuel Davis Rice, son of Dr. David Rice, III, and Jane Holt.

Rev. Samuel Davis Rice (1795-1864)

Samuel Davis Rice was named after Rev. Samuel Davies, the "Apostle of Virginia," and student of David Rice's grandfather and good friend of his father, Rev. David Rice, Jr. He was the pastor of Diamond Hill Presbyterian Church in Gladys, Virginia, from 1853 through 1863.

Rev. Samuel Rice (1712-1751) was my 6 times great grandfather; his son, Rev. Samuel Rice, Jr. (1741-1818) was my 6 times great uncle; and his son-in-law, Rev. David Rice, Jr. (1733-1816) was my 5 times great grandfather. Rev. James Mitchell (1747-1841) was my 4 times great grandfather and his son-in-law, Rev. Samuel Davies Rice (1795-1864) was the husband of my 4 times great aunt.

Revolutionary War Chaplain, Rev. Samuel Blair, Jr. 
Apostle of Kentucky

Friday, June 3, 2016

Project Manhattan Hanford Site

When I researched my grand aunt, Henrietta Muir, I purchased her obituary from the archives of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The obituary included this tantalizing reference: "During WW II, Ms. Muir was employed at Project Manhattan plant in Hanford, WA." I wanted to know more.

The Manhattan Project was a research and development project that produced the first nuclear weapons during World War II. The project was led by the United States with the support of the United Kingdom and Canada. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the U.S. Army Cops of Engineers (COE).

In order to produce plutonium, a plant needed to be built. COE worked with DuPont to establish criteria for site selection, which included at least 190 square miles of secure space located at least 20 miles from any sizable town and 10 miles from a major highway. The project needed a water supply of at least 25,000 gallons per minute and an electrical supply of at least 100,000 kilowatts.

In December 1942 the site selection team visited six potential sites. Hanford, Washington, was the last location visited. The Columbia river provided abundant water and the newly completed Grand Coulee Dam could supply the necessary electricity. General Groves endorsed Hanford as the proposed production site in January 1943. Two thousand residents within 580 square miles of the site were given 90 days notice to abandon their homes. Law suites ensued but were settled out of court in favor of time saved.

Construction of the production factory was a formidable challenge and required 50,000 workers. They lived in the Hanford Construction Camp, which included 1,175 buildings. It was the third largest city in Washington State. On Saturday nights, the Patriot Brewery opened for business. It was built specifically to serve the construction workers, who worked in shifts 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Construction was completed in less than 18 months.

Hanford workers waiting to pick up their paychecks at Western Union; photograph
courtesy of the Hanford Classified Documents Retrial System and Wikipedia

Producing plutonium at Hanford involved three major operations -- fuel fabrication, reactor operations, and chemical separation to extract plutonium. Success was achieved when the first irradiated slugs were discharged from the B Reactor on Christmas Day 1944. By the end of January the highly purified plutonium underwent further concentration in the completed chemical isolation building to remove any remaining impurities. The plant went into full-scale plutonium production on 2 February 1945 when it received its first shipment of plutonium.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Women's Army Corps (WACs)

Sisters and my first cousins twice removed, Elizabeth May and Bernice "Bea" Marie Muir both served in the Women's Army Corps during World War II. I realized I didn't know much about the WACs and wanted to learn more.

"Their contributions in efficiency, skill, spirit and determination are immeasurable."
-- Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Over 150,000 women served in the Women's Army Corps during World War II, making the equivalent of seven divisions of men available for combat. Applicants had to be between 21 and 45 years of age with no dependents, be at least five feet tall, and weigh 100 pounds or more. The first WACs joined Aircraft Warning Service (AWS) units in the field. Later recruits were sent to the Army Air Forces (AAF), Army Ground Forces (AGF), or Army Services Force (ASF) where they worked as file clerks, typists, stenographers, or motor pool drivers. Gradually each service discovered women were capable of filling numerous positions, such as weather observers and forecasters, cryptographers, radio operators and repairmen, sheet metal workers, parachute riggers, bombsight maintenance specialists, aerial photography analysts, and control tower operators. Some were even assigned flying duties and others ran the statistical control machines (precursors of computers) used to keep track of personnel records.

Soon after Betty Muir enlisted in the WACs as an aviation cadet, recruiting slowed to a trickle as slander campaigns challenged the WACS as sexually immoral. Many soldiers ferociously opposed allowing women in uniform, warning their sisters and female friends they would be seen as lesbians or prostitutes. Other men, seeing the posters that called on women to volunteer in order to "free a man to fight" feared being sent to combat units if women took the safe jobs. Critics outside the military included those with religious objections, reactionaries who wanted to prevent social change, and right-wing critics of Roosevelt's social programs.

Women's Army Auxiliary Corps recruiting poster; photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

Despite initial resistance, the WACs were considered important by many in the Army, who realized they helped the U.S. and its allies win the war. Traditional restrictions placed on women in the workplace before the war were broken by World War II. The WACs were disbanded in 1978 and all-female units were integrated with male units.

General Douglas McArthur called the WACs "my best soldiers," adding that they worked harder, complained less, and were better disciplined than men.

Treadwell, Mattie E. United States Army in World War II: Special Studies -- The Women's Army Corps, (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1954)
U.S. Army Center for Military History,